Timo Werner Has Ability To Fire Chelsea To Glory

Chelsea had a massive summer transfer window and brought in some high profile new faces to supplement their already capable and talented young squad.

They’ve started well in this campaign. They sit in third place in the Premier League and have already qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Although they’ve enjoyed a bright start to the season, there’s room for improvement and they’ll need to see that improvement if they’re genuinely going to challenge for major honours come the season’s end.

The above description of the Chelsea team could also be used to describe new striker Timo Wernermaiden campaign thus far.

The German international has done well in his first few months at the club but there’s scope for him to go onto that next level and become a Mohamed Salah type figure at The Blues. (When I say that I mean the Salah we see at Liverpool not the one that we briefly saw at Stamford Bridge.)

Werner is a player that excites me. He has great work ethic, he’s pacy, has a keen eye for goal, can dribble beyond opponents and has that ability to ghost into space which really unnerves defences. I also adore the fact that he can be as explosive on the left flank as he is when deployed centrally.

So far, Timo has bagged himself eight goals and three assists in a Blue jersey. Four of those goals have come in his nine league starts, that’s a stat that will have to improve. Chelsea will be hoping that they’ve signed a twenty league goals a season forward in Timo Werner!

But we have to remember that the twenty-four year old only joined the club in the summer, this is his first move away from his homeland. So in reality he has done well to get into the team and make an instant impact.

Many people scoffed at Werner’s missed chance against Rennes this midweek. I would suggest people re-watch that miss and properly analyse it.

It came at him at terrific pace, it skidded off the turf three times before it came to him and it arrived just behind the attacker. Now I’ll also state that he did make errors, he opened up his body and leaned back but all in all it wasn’t as bad a miss as people are suggesting.

The best thing to do when you miss those chances, and every striker has those moments, is to understand them and then move on. I am sure it won’t dent Timo’s confidence for too long.

I liked Chelsea boss Frank Lampard’s reaction to that particular chance:

‘The chance today, Timo wants to score that but the ball’s bobbling as it comes along and I know myself that those finishes look a lot easier from afar than they always are.’

‘I think it’s just normal that a player of Timo’s quality and where he is that he’s going to get even better, because he’s a top class player.’

Via The Metro

I also like the stirrings of a partnership we saw forming between Timo and Tammy Abraham against Newcastle United last weekend (BBC Match Report). Werner unselfishly laid Tammy’s goal onto him on a plate. They linked up a few times and Abraham should’ve scored more from the chaos the two provided the Toon defence.

It’s in a bigger games that Werner needs to really excel in. Those outings will be the difference between winning honours and not this season.

Against Liverpool – Nothing. Against Manchester United – Nothing. Against Sevilla – Nothing. Those were games that Chelsea also didn’t win.

Hopefully as Chelsea get firmly into their stride and as Timo becomes even more accustomed to his new surroundings, he’ll show the world that he can really be a difference maker in the games that count!

They’ve got fellow in-form Londoners Tottenham Hotspur arriving at The Bridge this weekend. What better time to really announce yourself in the Premier League than in that powder keg of a fixture!

Changing Manager Might Not Instantly Improve Celtic

There seems to be a huge difference of opinion between some of the Celtic support and the Celtic boardroom.

A group of the Hoops faithful are calling for managerial change, while Peter Lawwell and Co seem intent on giving current manger Neil Lennon time to get things back on track as the club chase down an historic tenth title in a row.

In all honesty I get both sides of the argument.

As a group of supporters, Celtic fans have always demanded an exciting brand of football and passionate, committed performances from their players.

That simply hasn’t been the case this season and Celtic’s issues do seem to lie at the door of their manager.

The team look extremely vulnerable at the back, especially when it comes to defending when the ball is in the air. In their last outing at Hibs (BBC Match Report), Celtic lost nineteen aerial battles and won just nine as they dropped two points. Even in a comfortable win against Motherwell, they still allowed the opposition side the chance to hit twenty-one crosses into their box.

In recent weeks, Celtic have changed their system without solving any of their problems. A few big name summer signings (Vasilis Barkas, Albian Ajeti and Shane Duffy) have so far struggled to make the necessary impact.

As each poor performance arrives, Neill Lennon has met it by blaming his players and by throwing them under the bus. That rhetoric hasn’t seen a change in performances nor has it been met with approval from the Parkhead faithful, who are worried it signals that things are going the same way for the gaffer as it did at his previous job at Hibs where he seemingly lost the dressing room!

Some Celtic fans genuinely believe a managerial change has to take place now, if The Hoops are to stand any chance of catching and overtaking Rangers in the Scottish Premiership race and claim that tenth title in a row.

Yet the board seem extremely hesitant to change things.

They may point to the fact that since arriving back at Celtic Park, Lennon has won every bit of silverware that’s been there to win. That the current boss is that one that started this journey in the first place. Plus they’ve only lost one domestic game in this calendar year.

When you look at that first title win back in 2011-12, Celtic supporters were also calling for Neil to be sacked back then. It’s believed that he would have indeed been given the axe had his side not comeback from a three goal deficit in October to claim a draw with Killie at Rugby Park. That result signalled a turning point as Celtic chased down then leaders Rangers, overtook them and claimed the title that season!

Even last term, Lennon showed he had the skill-set to get more out of his squad and turn things around. Having lost to Rangers in late December, it was believed that Celtic were going to struggle in 2020. Yet after the winter break, Lennon’s side went on a ten game unbeaten run in the Scottish top flight (nine wins) and were thirteen points ahead of their nearest rivals when Covid-19 brought the league campaign to a premature end (Rangers did have a game in hand).

The board might believe that once again Neil Lennon can turn things around. They might also feel he has been hampered by injuries and by pandemic restrictions. It might be believed that when they have a full quota of players available to them, then things will change dramatically for the better.

Now while I do indeed understand both cases for keeping and getting rid of the current Celtic manager, I don’t see a natural succession plan in place that would automatically change things for the better if Celtic were to bring in a new gaffer.

The Celtic board aren’t known for being long-term football thinkers. They seem somewhat reactionary. Just look at how they do their transfer business after their Champions League dreams are over and how they gave Lennon the job on a permanent basis in the first place.

Instead of scouring the football world for the best candidate and interviewing people; they decided that Neil had steadied the ship, knew the club and was the cheaper option. Thus offering him the gig in the showers at Hampden Park after the Scottish Cup final in 2019. A final that didn’t really see the Green half of Glasgow play at their best.

The current options I am seeing being linked with the job are far from appealing.

Returns for Gordon Strachan and Martin O’Neill have been mentioned.

Strachan never quite got the full support of the Celtic fanbase. Yes he enjoyed successes at Celtic Park but you always felt it was a marriage of convenience rather than one of love. His style of football again didn’t usually capture the spectator’s imagination. The former boss has only had one club gig since his departure in 2009 and he flopped big time at Middlesbrough.

Martin O’Neill is a Celtic legend. He brought the glory days back to Glasgow’s east end. Would a dream team of him and Roy Keane change things?

I doubt they’d get any more out of this current squad than Lennon. Their six month spell in charge at Nottingham Forest in 2019 was a bit of a horror story and by all accounts they couldn’t to grips with the modern day footballer. I am not sure the answer to Celtic’s problems is Roy Keane going into the dressing room and throwing verbal grenades into it.

Plus I just don’t see O’Neill taking over the reigns if it meant seeing his prodigy Neil Lennon getting the boot.

Martin O’Neill has gone on record to back his former player:

 “If I had walked back into Celtic Park for a second spell after a manager had just left and there was a treble Treble at stake, if I had delivered it and then stood on the cusp of delivering another one – and he is just one game away from that – I would be asking myself ‘just where is this pressure coming from?’ It is shocking.

“The pressure he is under right now is entirely unwarranted for the success that Celtic have had and the part he has played in that.”

Via Daily Record

Then there’s Eddie Howe.

I like Howe and the job he did at AFC Bournemouth. But look at the way it ended there. He couldn’t change the mindset of his players and the club’s fortunes as they headed out of the Premier League.

He could be one if you are thinking long term but you cannot say he will change things immediately.

You’ve also got to believe a new manager would want to change things in the January transfer market. Can we see the Celtic board doing that? I’m not sure.

In all honesty, if the Celtic board haven’t already identified a candidate and put a transfer strategy in place by now then I think panicking and getting rid of Neil Lennon won’t see them solving the major issues at Celtic Park.

A Rejuvenated Jose Mourinho Has Tottenham Fans Dreaming Again

After a year in charge at Tottenham Hotspur, boss Jose Mourinho has taken the North London club to the summit of the Premier League.

I don’t think anyone, save perhaps Jose himself, would’ve thought this possible.

Yes they’ve always had a talented squad and should have been able to compete for top honours on a consistent basis.

Former manager Mauricio Pochettino seemed to have got Spurs to the brink and was getting a lot from that talented squad. But after a second placed finish in the league and an unsuccessful Champions League final, things went into a decline and Poch and his players had hit a glass ceiling.

Now there’s no doubting Jose’s successes in his CV but there has been more lows than highs since 2012. With major fall-outs being reported at Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Many a football fan and pundit have all questioned whether football had now left Mourinho behind.

Could he evolve as a tactician? Can he get the most out of modern players without losing a dressing room?

Things at Tottenham didn’t start off with a huge bang and some inconsistent results and performances followed his arrival.

But things markedly changed after lockdown as Spurs returned fitter and more together as they finished in sixth place.

Mourinho’s dedication to the job couldn’t be questioned after lockdown either. He and his coaching staff decided to stay as a bubble at the club’s training ground, planning for whatever the future held. Jose and some of his players were caught breaking lockdown rules by training as a group in a public park. They would also hold regular zoom meetings with the whole squad.

At the start of this term, Spurs were found wanting as Everton came down to London and played the home team off the park. People once again questioned the Portuguese coach and his ability to get the most out of this Tottenham Hotspur pool.

Yet since that disappointing start, The Lilywhites have gone unbeaten in the English top flight (Notching up six wins and two draws).

They have humbled Man United at Old Trafford as Jose guided his new team to a 6-1 win over his old employers. Then yesterday, Spurs tactically outclassed Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City (BBC Match Report).

It was a performance that showed that Jose could still put on a masterclass. He played to his team’s strengthens while also exploiting to his opponent’s weaknesses.

Tottenham were compact in the middle and would often double up on the wings, often frustrating Man City. Moussa Sissoko and Serge Aurier were particularly disciplined and deserve praise for their tireless work-rate.

Spurs have looked particularly exciting when in the final third. The attacking partnership of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min has been absolutely sensational this term.

Unlike in previous campaigns, South Korean internationalist Son has been the main goal-getter having struck nine times in nine league appearances. Kane on the other hand has scored a very credible seven goals but more interestingly the England captain has also created nine assists.

Harry has often dropped deep this season, receiving the ball and playing in Son as the Korean would run into the space that Kane had vacated.

Defences have struggled to get hold of this duo. They now know Kane can be a threat anywhere in their half and that sees centre-backs often leaving comfortable areas. Heung-Min’s intelligent and industrious runs are then hard to pick up and instantly read. You’ve got to believe Mourinho has worked on this and it’s working wonders thus far.

The club’s summer signings have also worked well in quickly integrating themselves and doing jobs for the team.

Left-back Sergio Reguilón is very capable of attacking from his flank and the Spaniard also showed against City that he can defend too.

Former Southampton man Pierre-Emile Hølberg has added extra steel into the midfield. No player bettered the Dane’s tally of five tackles in the win over City.

Vinicius has still to score but the striker has been mostly used in the Europa League and he has looked decent in those outings. He’ll probably have to wait until Kane’s usual seasonal injury before we can really judge his ability in the league.

Spurs fans already know what Gareth Bale can bring to the party. He already seems hungrier playing back in a White Spurs shirt and he scored the winning goal in his side’s win over Brighton. The fitter he can get the more dangerous he’ll become. That could see another game changer on the field of play. Importantly Bale has returned a player with vast winning experiences.

This early season form, the strong summer signings and Jose Mourinho’s previous winning experiences have added a new lease of life to the dreams of the Tottenham support.

The manager himself has been quick to downplay any exceptions of title success this term:

People cannot expect us to come here and after one season we are fighting for the title.’

‘We are not fighting for the title, we are just fighting to win every match.

Via The Metro

Mourinho doesn’t want any more pressure being added to his unproven squad. He’s the one with the winning experience, not them. He’ll know the history of them failing under the highest of scrutiny and won’t want that coming into being a factor this early into a campaign.

But what can’t be overlooked is that Tottenham Hotspur look very strong under Jose Mourinho. They have an added edge, seem more disciplined and having a fluidity in attacking areas.

The squad clearly don’t think that their manager is a yesterday’s man. They have bought into his rhetoric and at the moment it’s paying off.

Only time will tell if they can sustain this form and challenge for this year’s Premier League title. If Mourinho really does have his mojo back, then I certainly wouldn’t bet against him!

Man United Need More Magic Like That From Magician Bruno Fernandes

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must’ve been extremely worried about his own future when Everton took the lead in their Premier League encounter earlier today.

United came into the fixture in dismal form and many a pundit (including this one) were talking about this being a possible make or break game for Ole.

Thankfully for the Red Devils boss he could count on maestro Bruno Fernandes to call upon to help him out.

The Portuguese international was the man who turned United’s season around last term and even though he only arrived at Old Trafford in January he still became their player of the year.

During his maiden campaign, Bruno bagged eight goals and seven assists in his fourteen league appearances and that helped secure Man United a top four finish.

This season has been pretty inconsistent for United as they’ve languished in the bottom half of the table.

Some of United’s faithful have been asking for more from the now talismanic figure of Fernandes to get them out of the rut.

Now I believe the twenty-six year old has still been his side’s best performer but today he produced the performance that shows just how great he can be.

Against the Toffees, he was a difference maker, turned the game around and quite probably kept his gaffer in a job (BBC Match Report).

He produced an inch perfect run to meet a fantastic Luke Shaw cross and steer it beyond Everton keeper Jordan Pickford. That goal came just five minutes after the hosts had taken the lead and it really galvanised the visitors.

Then just past the half hour mark, Bruno Fernandes had the ball in the net again when his floated cross deceived everyone.

In the second half, while it was still nervy with the slender lead. United counter attacked and had a three on two as Bruno approached the Toffees box. Everyone seemed pretty certain that the attacking midfield would lunch a strike in a bid to get his hattrick. But after giving the defence the eyes, he turned the ball over to an unmarked Edinson Cavani and the lethal Uruguayan finished with ease.

That unselfish act of Bruno’s, to assist Cavani instead of going for his third , shows just how instrumental he has become to the whole United set-up. That goal will give Edinson huge confidence as that was his first since going the Red Devils since his arrival in the summer. A striker always wants to get off the mark quickly and it is clear that Fernandes understands this and had the awareness to get his pal that all important first strike.

After the game Bruno showed that he knows what’s needed to make United great again:

“I think we know inside of the dressing room what we have to do, the players that we have,” he said.

“Everyone needs to be a leader. Some are the mute leaders, they don’t talk too much but they’re doing the right things.

“Others need to speak a little bit more to be more part of the game, to feel more part of the game.

“But the point is, in the end of the game, taking the three points is for everyone, not just for one player.”

Fernandes via The Express

The Portuguese star is definitely a leader for Manchester United on the park. He has the class, the passion and the ability to really make a difference.

He has already grabbed five goals and three assists in those seven Premier League games.

If Bruno Fernandes can keep up his own magical performances and the rest of his teammates can join him then the tide might just turn at Old Trafford after all.

Now Could Be Perfect Time To Replace Solskjaer With Mauricio Pochettino At Man United

I am betting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dreaded seeing out of work coach Mauricio Pochettino back on British tv, as Poch was Sky’s pundit for the last episode of Monday Night Football.

Manchester United have endured a poor start to the Premier League season and had just lost at home to rivals Arsenal the previous day.

They would go on and lose in the Champions League this midweek after a dismal defensive showing against Istanbul Basaksehir (BBC Match Report).

That latest loss has seen United fans and media pundits alike questioning Ole’s position at the club.

Solskjaer received plenty of praise for turning last season around and guiding his side to a top four finish but alas his players were poor at the beginning of last term too. Instead of growing in confidence and carrying on their form that won plaudits after lockdown, United have once again gone back two steps.

I don’t believe Ole can take all the blame of the miserable start to this campaign. The board didn’t do enough to build on that feel good factor and should’ve worked harder in the transfer market to markedly improve the squad. Numerous players have also seen a dip in their form and will have to accept that they’ve simply not been good enough so far.

Yet unfortunately for Solskjaer it’s often much easier to change manager than it is to change the board or dump a fair chunk of a playing squad. Owners and boardrooms often see a managerial change as being the answer to all their problems.

Plus after 101 games in charge at Old Trafford, many will say that the Norwegian boss hasn’t shown enough to keep him in the hot-seat. He’s got a winning percentage of just over 54% and United have lost more than they’ve drawn since Ole took charge.

His playing philosophy at The Red Devils is still not clear and that confusion shouldn’t remain after almost two years at the club’s helm.

The defence has often been a problem and certainly hasn’t been vastly improved during Solskjaer’s spell. I don’t think there’s enough leaders within the squad and Ole should know from his time there as a player, that you need foot-soldiers on the pitch that know exactly what to do.

A loss to Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton this weekend could leave Man Utd 17th in the Premier League. That could leave Solskjaer’s position untenable.

According to a report in today’s Manchester Evening News, Man United have approached Mauricio Pochettino about becoming their next gaffer.

The appointment of the Argentine coach would be viewed as a real coup.

Poch has managed at both Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur previously in the English top flight and he was successful in making both sides much better outfits.

During his tenure at Spurs, Pochettino guided them to a Champions League final in 2019. In his five full campaigns with The Lilywhites, Mauricio managed to gain four top four finishes including Tottenham’s highest ever league finish of second in 2017.

He’s a manager that gains instant respect from his players and one that seems to get the best out of them too. The former Argentine manager also likes to see his teams playing with an attractive high press, which will garner support from the United fans. Poch has an easy identifiable style and players seem to adapt to it fairly easily.

A question mark that would probably cloud his possible appointment would be his lack of trophies as a manager, although many might argue that he hasn’t bossed at a club of Manchester United’s yet!

The forty year old has already stated that he’s very much set on making a comeback:

“I was always ready to be involved in the game again. I love football. It’s my passion, not my job.

“It’s not a stress when you are working. It’s not a stress to go to the training ground. It’s not a stress to prepare for a game. It’s not a stress to compete… look, my hair is still getting longer and longer!

“I am looking forward to being involved in the game again, I love the game.

Pochettino via Goal.com

Those words will probably worry an pressured Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as they might be music to the ears of a board that might be looking to make a change.

This weekend could be huge for Manchester United’s future!

Eden Hazard Could Become Another Underwhelming Galactico

Back in June 2019, Real Madrid completed the signing of Eden Hazard from Chelsea in a deal worth up to £150 million. The transfer was somewhat predictable, with Belgian long speaking of his admiration for the Spanish giants. However, since swapping Stamford Bridge for the Santiago Bernabeu, the 29-year-old has struggled in performing to his top-class best. So, let’s take a look at whether he can turn his fortunes around, or if he’s destined to go down as an expensive flop. 

A Dream Move That’s Failed to Live Up to Expectations

By his own admission, joining the most successful side in Champions League history saw him complete a lifelong dream, according to a report by The Guardian. Although moving to the Spanish capital may have started as a surreal experience, the pressures of being a Galactico soon became a reality for the Belgian winger. 

In his opening season with Los Blancos, Hazard featured in just 16 matches, two of which came from the subs bench. Regarding his statistical return, the 29-year-old recorded some respectable figures. Across those La Liga appearances, Hazard scored one goal and assisted a further six, as per his profile at ESPN. 

Despite that, his inability to feature in the majority of the club’s matches resulted in numerous sections of the Los Blancos fan base turn on their most expensive signing. Not only that, but the Spanish media also began to lose faith with the former Chelsea attacker. GiveMeSport report that Marca listed Hazard as Madrid’s second-worst Galactico signing, only ahead of Michael Owen

No Denying the Belgian’s Talent, But What About Fitness? 

In Hazard’s defence, while his on-field performances have been somewhat unrecognizable from his Premier League days at Stamford Bridge, he has also suffered an array of fitness and injury problems while in the Spanish capital. Since joining Real Madrid in June 2019, Hazard has thus far missed a total of 35 games through various injuries. According to Transfermarkt, the worst of which was a hairline crack in his foot, which kept him out for 17 matches between December 2019 and February 2020.  

Perhaps now it’s not so much of a case of whether the Belgian can adapt to the Spanish league as much as whether he can stay free of injuries. From a talent standpoint, few in the current era of football have the ability to single-handedly win games quite like the 29-year-old, although that’s somewhat meaningless if he can’t take to the field consistently enough. 

If Los Blancos are to retain the Spanish title and make a push for their 14th Champions League triumph, then they’ll need Hazard to recapture his best form and fitness. As of October 27th, Zinedine Zidane’s side are currently 11/10 with La Liga betting to win back-to-back titles, beating the likes of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Sevilla to the crown. 

How Much More Time Can Madrid Give Hazard? 

Hazard’s record speaks for itself and, because of that, he’s earned the right to be shown some patience. That said, starting just 14 league games during the 2019-20 season and then going into the current campaign injured isn’t a good look for the Belgian. Of course, injuries are an inevitability, but Madrid are ruthless operators and could soon consider cutting their losses on the 29-year-old.

Zlatan Could Be The Man That Brings Back Title To Milan

After six games, AC Milan remain unbeaten and sit top of the Serie A table.

It seems crazy to think that plans were in place towards the end of last term to replace current boss Stefano Pioli with German gaffer Ralf Rangnick. Yet after an impressive end to the 2019-20 campaign, which saw the Rossoneri qualify for the Europa League, it was announced a U-turn had been made and that Pioli had now signed a two year extension to remain in charge at the San Siro (Source BBC Sport).

Milan’s fine finish to last season has continued into this current year. Gianluigi Donnarumma, Theo Hernandez, Franck Kessié and Rafael Leâo have all been in impressive form as their side have won five out of their opening six league fixtures.

The real maverick in the team is the seemingly ageless Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The thirty-nine year old returned to the Italian top flight in January and ended last season with ten strikes in eighteen league games. This term Zlatan has already banged in seven in just four domestic appearances, that’s half of Milan’s league tally so far. He currently leads the Italian scoring charts, ahead of Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo.

During the weekend the star striker was fully involved in his side’s latest victory.

AC Milan took the lead on the eighteenth minute when the ball was played into the box and Zlatan instantly controlled it, held off his marker before calmly looking around and picking out an incoming Klessié who riffled his shot into the net.

In the second half Udinese levelled things via the penalty spot.

Then on the eighty-third minute, Ibra rolled back the years as he improvised when the ball was high in the air inside Udinese’s penalty box as he managed to secure enough contact with his overhead kick which crossed the line and nestled into the back of the net.

That game showed us once again what an iconic figure Zlatan Ibrahimovic is.

His Milan teammates celebrated his winning strike as if he was a conquering hero and one who was leading them to glory. His first touch remains immaculate and he still has the strength of a lion. Any pace that he may have lost has been made up for with his supreme footballing intelligence. His fitness is still there too, he’s lasted the full ninety minutes for each of his four Serie A outings. Plus he still has the magic of being able to score against top class opposition as was the case with his doubles against city rivals Inter and also against AS Roma.

Stefano Pioli clearly understands that his veteran hitman could be the key to any success the Rossoneri have this term. Zlatan has pulled many a club by the bootstraps and taken them with him to a league title. He did it back in 2011, the last time Milan won the Scudetto.

That’s why Pioli is clearly deciding to rest him more when European games come around, the Swede still starts but he just won’t see the final whistle.

The Milan boss has already stated that Zlatan is important in keeping this young squad together as they search for silverware:

“Ibra knows how much he is important for his teammates’ growth. He knows the path is a long one, we want to overcome these challenges that help us to improve under every point of view.”

Pioli via Football Italia

His form this season remains even more astonishing when you consider that he tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the campaign (Source Sky Sports).

You get the sense that this could be a huge season for Italian football. Under rookie boss Andrea Pirlo, nine in a row champions Juventus look slightly vulnerable. There will be sides in Serie A that will look at this time as being their time to shine.

If AC Milan can keep Zlatan Ibrahimovic fit, healthy and scoring goals then you wouldn’t bet against Zlatan being the warrior who would dethrone his old club and reclaim his crown as king of Italian football!

Diogo Jota Already Proving His Worth At Liverpool

Current Premier League champions Liverpool have returned to the table’s summit this weekend, after a tight win over West Ham United (BBC Match Report).

The Reds have still to find that superior consistency that helped them run towards their first league title in thirty years during the last campaign.

Yet one thing we know is that Jurgen Klopp has once again been astute in the transfer market with forward Diogo Jota seamlessly coming into the squad and shining in a Reds jersey.

The Portuguese winger has bagged himself four goals in his first nine appearances (four starts) for his new club.

It’s never easy for a player to adjust themselves to new surroundings and you can imagine that’s particularly true for any attacker trying to get game time at Anfield when he is up against the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

While Jota hasn’t been an instant starter for Klopp’s side he has shown when called upon that he can be another dangerous outlet, no matter which wing he’s flying down!

Diogo climbed off the bench yesterday to nab a late winner over the Hammers. It was the twenty-three year old’s third winning strike in as many games.

You could tell last term that Liverpool didn’t have that exciting creative talent that could come in and challenge the front three, especially in the wider positions. Injuries ruined Xherdan Shaqiri’s season last year and Takumi Minamino hasn’t quite settled into life at Liverpool just yet, plus I’d say those two players offer more from deeper positions.

Diogo Jota has clearly benefited from coming to Anfield having already established himself in the English top flight at Wolves. He scored sixteen times in the league during his two years at Molineux. Last term he also showed his worth in Europe with his six Europa League goals.

Jota’s goal against West Ham showed he remains calm in pressured situations. Shaqiri’s lovely through ball set the forward up in a one on one situation with the opposition goalkeeper, which saw Diogo side foot the ball first time into the net.

After yesterday’s win, Reds boss Klopp stated just how impressed he’s been with his new signing:

“He’s an exceptional talent.”

“He has the speed, physicality, technique, he’s both-footed… He’s much better than I thought he would be and that’s really impressive.”

Jurgen Klopp Via The Express

With all that being said, I am sure there is one stat that Klopp and Liverpool fans will be hoping to see Jota improve upon before too long and that’s his assists.

The Portuguese international only created one league assist in over thirty games for Wolverhampton Wanderers last season. He’s still to get one for Liverpool in this campaign but that will have to change because the likes of Firmino, Salah and Mane will demand it!

Diogo has the pace to beat players and the ability to find space and vision to create good chances for his teammates. Klopp will hope he can start to add more of that to his game sooner rather than later. It could be the thing that makes him a starter at Anfield.

Diogo Jota has already shown Reds fans that he can be another difference maker in the final third, which is something the league champions have been missing in the last few years.

Liverpool have added to their exciting squad with yet another top player and that’s why they’ll be up there challenging again for all the top silverware come the season’s end.

They say winning sides don’t stand still and with the Diogo Jota signing, Liverpool haven’t let the grass grow under their feet after last season’s triumph!

Chelsea Could Be More Suited To Champions League Success

Chelsea have a very energetic and enthusiastic young squad and they could be looking towards silverware under rookie boss and club legend Frank Lampard.

The Blues made some major signings during the summer to supplement the young talented players that they already had within their ranks.

It could be that Chelsea might actually be more suited to target a major trophy rather than challenge for the Premier League title as the squad gels together.

What better trophy to aim for than the UEFA Champions League?

It wouldn’t be an easy triumph but I do believe Chelsea have the tools necessary to go after that trophy.

After a deserve win 4-0 against Krasnodar, Chelsea’s odds have shortened from +2433 to +2067, they still have to improve their game to reach the top spots according to Sports Betting Dime.

As they head into their double header with Ligue 1 side Rennes, Chelsea are still unbeaten after two games and have still to concede a goal too.

Lampard has improved most parts of his team with his recent purchases.

Edouard Mendy has already shown himself to be a better option to have between the sticks. Thiago Silva adds vital experience to the backline and Ben Chilwell gives more energy from left-back. Kai Havertz was a costly buy (Source BBC) but the German has already proved that he can grab goals from midfield. Moroccan star Hakim Ziyech adds creativity and Timo Werner is a world class forward.

We’ve seen in the Premier League that Chelsea have still to find the consistency to gain a proper challenge for the league title. They’re only four points off top spot but they have drawn three and lost one of their opening six domestic encounters.

Lampard has stated that not being allowed to make five subs during Premier League fixtures has made the campaign slightly tougher this term:

The ball was certainly dropped when the Premier League turned away from having five subs,”

“These are unprecedented times in terms of situations for football. It will carry on, it’s not going anywhere in the short term.”

Via TeamTalk.com

It might be easier to gain top performances in a cup competition this term, especially one like the Champions League that allow you to make more subs. This gives more players the chance to shine and gives the manager a chance to rotate and rest more of his squad.

Now I wouldn’t suggest that The Blues just concentrate everything on Europe’s top club competition and forget the league. Added consistency in the league will actually give Chelsea a better chance of gaining silverware this season. Too many bad results would hamper team morale.

Plus there’s no given right that Chelsea will win the Champions League just because they decide to concentrate all their efforts on that title. You still have to beat European powerhouses like Real Madrid, Liverpool and current champs Bayern Munich. You then have to have luck on your side in terms of staying away from too many injuries, suspensions and getting a good draw in later rounds.

I still think Frank Lampard needs to find out who his strongest back four is. That could be his downfall in all competitions this year.

Chelsea have a very intriguing squad and this could be a very interesting season. I do believe that they have a capable team to challenge for the Champions League and get close to the Premier League trophy but they need to find consistency and get the most out of their talented pool of players!

Praising Marcus Rashford The Footballer and The Person

Marcus Rashford has had quite the year.

The Manchester United and England star has been very vocal in his view that children in poverty shouldn’t go hungry during holiday time away from school.

Now personally, I can’t understand why that would see Marcus criticised yet that’s happened. Even the Conservative Party, UK’s governing political party, have had to use their whips and spin doctors to try and work against him.

During the summer holidays Rashford successfully managed to get a U-Turn from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to provide free meals for the kids that needed it in England. He tried to get the government to do the same for the October and the upcoming Christmas breaks, which was turned down.

Instead of backing down or throwing his toys out of the pram, Rashford worked diligently online to refocus his efforts to create change. There’s now a petition to end child food poverty that has received over one million signatures (Source BBC). He has also posted lots of posts on Twitter telling the stories of local business and councils that will provide meals and packed lunches for kids that need it in certain areas.

His outspoken beliefs regarding charity (in particular ending child food poverty) has seen him receive an MBE in the recent Queen’s honours list.

Now I know that Marcus will have a team of people that will help him with this campaign and help run certain parts of his Twitter campaign but be in no doubt that this is something close to his heart and this isn’t a marketing exercise.

Unfortunately his views haven’t gone unnoticed from cynical or let’s say stupid football fans.

Almost every time Marcus Rashford posts something on Twitter about trying to end child food poverty, he will get responses like ‘concentrate on your football‘.

Now I think his moral stance on ending child food poverty means more than football but even if you think he has to focus on his football, I don’t think we can say he’s let that side down.

Last night Marcus grabbed his first senior career hat-trick with his three Champions League goals against RB Leipzig at Old Trafford. The twenty-two year old now has seven goals in nine United appearances during this campaign. He has also two assists in his five Premier League starts.

That is after his highest scoring season last term!

While United have had a pretty inconsistent start to the 2020-21, I don’t think Rashford has been one of their disappointing performers.

It is sometimes easy to forget that Marcus Rashford is still a young man making his way in the game. It seems like he’s been a United regular for a decade but this is only his fifth season as a first teamer.

I don’t think Man United have has quite as an energetic or direct forward in their ranks since Cristiano Ronaldo. Manchester United always look more dangerous in the final third whenever Marcus Rashford gets the ball there for his team.

Now Rashford isn’t at that level yet but he is one of the world’s best young talents.

The fact that he is also a champion for those that need his help, innocent children, is a massive bonus and the whole of the UK should be proud of his on and off field achievements!